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Tourism delivers 'value for money'

Fifteen pounds was generated for the Manx economy by people visiting the Isle of Man for every pound spent by the government on tourism related activities, during the last five years.

That's the main conclusion in a reply to a Tynwald question from Onchan MHK Peter Karran, which shows net expenditure of £35 million by the Department of Tourism and £526 million by visitors during the same period.

In his detailed response, to what amounts to a demand from Mr Karran to justify the existance of what's now called the Tourism Division, Minister for Economic Development Alan Bell says that, as a very crude measure of value for money, the figures stand up well.

Direct income generated by the department's activities during the five years was £2.37 million.

In assessing whether the government's £35 million was well spent, Mr Bell uses as his yardstick the expectations of return on investment by organisations such as the regional development agencies promoting tourism in England.

He says activity during the five years centred on promoting the Island as a visitor destination to the benefit of the local economy, and goes on to explain the methods used to work out whether the money was well spent.

For example, since 2005 events supported by the Tourism Event Development Scheme have attracted 12,000 visitors per year, and generated 50,000 bed nights, with a return on investment of £11 for every pound spent.

The overall return on investment for the 86 conferences held on the Island in the five years is nearly £9 for every pound spent, from an estimated minimum of £32,000 bed nights.

Mr Bell concludes by saying the visitor economy is important to the Isle of Man and, as far as he is concerned, the Tourism Division is promoting the Island as a visitor destination effectively.

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